Pattern Philosophy and Practice

Background and Concept:  Since my patterns focus on a more organic way of design, let me explain how they are different.  For many years I taught fashion and pattern design and studied the methods of Madeleine Vionnet, who is considered one of the best “cutters” in fashion history.  When working in her way, the focus is on simplicity -- using very few but perfectly placed cuts, very few pattern pieces, a narrow range of fabrics often cut on the bias, a minimum of sewing, under layers or hardware.  Plus, since the bias does not ravel, edge finishes are not required.  This is entirely different from the commercial straight grain patterns which work well with standard size charts and have the conventional front, back and sleeves.  With their bias cuts, the fit and size of CFPD patterns are greatly affected by the customer's own choice of fabrics, and the elimination of seams and darts.  Fewer seams means fewer pattern pieces and less restriction so that the garment will drape over more areas of the body with greater comfort.  For these reasons assuring people that every design will fit a certain standard size is not feasible.  It is one reason why Vionnet's work did not adapt well for commercial mass production. 

Making a Toile:  On the question of what fabric works well to make a toile (an early try out version), rayon challis is great for bias designs and cotton muslin is fine for the straight grain designs.  Rayon has the highest specific density of available fabrics and so it will drape heavier and more fluidly than cottons. Use a solid color so you can concentrate on the shape and fit.  Many of the one pattern piece designs can be enlarged by simply adding any amount to all the outer edges prior to cutting, keeping the neck the same -- basically enlarging the pattern equally all around.  Make the toile; baste it up; try it on, adjust the fit and then cut off the sleeve or hems for the best length.  

Instructions:  One bit of explanation about skill levels and instructions, my thinking is that since I cannot be sure that beginners understand bias cut, fabric behavior, specific edge finishes or more couture patterning, I am almost required to say they are not for beginners.  More experienced people who find they need some help on a technique should consult a good sewing book since my instructions do not cover every construction detail and do assume experienced stitchers have an arsenal of techniques at their disposal.

Designs:  About the designs, I choose designs that I think make women look interesting, alluring,  graceful and beautiful for themselves rather than what they are wearing.  I try to emphasize timeless elegance, a fit that skims the body when worn and a cut that brings out the most interesting behavior of the fabrics.  The overall idea is that the clothing should be quick to cut and sew, very comfortable on the body and have an inventive and attractive pattern design.